To freelance, is to merge both professional and private life. This often leads to pure chaos as your workload builds up, clients contradict themselves and payments are either late… or none existent.
The trick then, is to become as organised as possible, so when chaos strikes you’re in a better position to deal with it. As a general rule of thumb, I split the seemingly monumental task of organising your entire life into four sections of management. (Because that’s the highest I can count on one hand and math is hard)
Management of the task.
This is the foundation of the control you will assert over your professional life. This is achievable by indexing everything you need to finish/complete/accomplish into a list. Time consuming? Truly, necessary? Undoubtedly. In addition to simply listing everything in need of “doing”, effective task management requires setting aside the time to consider each step along the path to completion, is there over similar tasks you could group with this step for efficiency? Will this require extra coffee? Finally assigning priory to tasks will allow you to see if a task can done now, or when life becomes less crazy.
Management of time.
Given the choice between time or task management? Personally I’d choose task. However a freelancer in the wild can’t afford to ignore the benefits effective time management offer. Deadlines imposed by our client overlords must be met! For this to be done efficiently it helps to keep solid track of all your current turn in/deadline dates in order to get everything completed on time. Again the humble list could be your greatest friend, you learn to make use of calendars/time keeping software (or “apps” for today’s hip urban youth).
Managing your work space
Effective workspace management is found in the creation of a space – for which you will work in, that actually promotes your productivity. There’s no right or wrong way to this so find what works best for you, but as rule of thumb it works best to have everything you will be needing the most close at hand. This can mean assigning everything its little place and taking some time to make sure you A. have everything you need before starting B. it’s within grabbing range before sitting down to a project.
Money Money Money! (Management)
This, right here is the definition of a double edged blade. One half complex, one half crucial and one half potential brain death (again, maths is hard) When you freelance, a steady income is something that happens to other people. Having to rely on clients to pay the agreed amount at the agreed time is equal parts liberating and terrifying, as such I personally attempt to keep an emergency float of cash at all times. Freelancers will often pay the operating or big bills (such as mortgage, internet, car and utilities) in advance as payments come in, takes some of the tension off knowing your must have bills are covered.
Personally when a big payment comes in, I’ll pay those operating bills as many months ahead as I can. But no system is perfect so run with whatever works for you, just make sure all your financial obligations are met because A. don’t be a dead beat and B. however much money you have left over is a good indicator if this is a career, or simply an expensive hobby.